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Before the 16th century, harvest was the term usually used to refer to the season. However, as more people gradually moved from working the land to living in towns (especially those who could read and write, the only people whose use of language we now know), the word harvest lost its reference to the time of year and came to refer only to the actual activity of reaping, and fall, as well as autumn, began to replace it as a reference to the season.
The alternative word fall is now mostly a North American English word for the season. It traces its origins to old Germanic languages. The exact derivation is unclear, the Old English fiæll or feallan and the Old Norse fall all being possible candidates. However, these words all have the meaning "to fall from a height" and are clearly derived either from a common root or from each other. The term came to denote the season in the 16th century, a contraction of Middle English expressions like "fall of the leaf" and "fall of the year".
During the 20th century, English immigration to the colonies in North America was at its lowest point, and the new settlers took their language with them. While the term fall gradually became obsolescent in Britain, ...